It's finally here.
The Smokies returnees and hopefuls will strut their stuff over the next three days at the Cominco Arena in what head coach Bill Birks told me yesterday should be a "very competitive" weekend. 80 players are in town for a series of practices and scrimmages (I posted the schedule earlier this week and it's also available here), culminating in the annual intrasquad game Saturday afternoon.
To hear my full conversation with Birks, click here.
Unfortunately, working full-time in Castlegar means my time at camp will be shorter than I'd hoped, but I'm hoping to catch a scrimmage or two today and tomorrow before spending most of the day at the rink Saturday. Stay tuned for thoughts and (depending on my point-and-shoot skills) a few shots of the action.
Take A Free Ride: In conjunction with AM Ford, the Smokies are running their annual "Drive One for the Smokies" event this Saturday from 9 am until 4 pm. It's a great opportunity for the club to raise funds (the Rebels made $5,800 last season) and if you're a car guy (or gal), I'm sure I could think of worse ways to spend an hour.
Rebels Camp Wrap: I chatted with Castlegar head coach Steve Junker earlier this week about the weekend festivities in Osoyoos, to hear that conversation click here.
Nitehawks Camp: All the fun in Fruitvale begins tomorrow. I chatted with Beaver Valley bench boss Terry Jones yesterday, I'll post that audio once it's run on our station.
Trail Orioles: And as if there wasn't enough sports action in the greater Trail area this weekend, the Trail AM Ford Orioles are hosting the Western Canadian Baseball Championships at Butler Park this weekend. Trail's opening game is tonight at 7:00 against the BC champion Vernon Diamondbacks, before playing clubs from Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba over the next two days.
Bits & Bites: Former Smokie Mike Betz, who was recently traded back to the BCHL (Salmon Arm) from Alberta, is reportedly attending the camp of the WHL's Vancouver Giants. Betz is a past first-round bantam draft pick of the Spokane Chiefs. Congrats to my former colleague (and former Nelson Leafs play-by-play man) Matt "Anthony" Soper on landing the webcast gig for the Prince George Spruce Kings. I can't wait to hear him call a Prince George overtime winner (against anyone but the Smokies, of course), and by my count, the Spruce Kings are the seventh team in the league to have a new announcer this season. Speaking of play-by-play and radio, interesting to note the KIJHL's Osoyoos Coyotes will be heard on a station based in nearby Oroville, Washington. They were on EZ Rock Osoyoos last season.
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